Even today, when everything in art is supposedly permitted, the work of Jake & Dinos Chapman still has the whiff of scandal and transgression. Their obsession with the ‘dark’, chaotic imagery of the unconscious, where unreason rules, is re-enforced by a consummate mastery of traditional skills in whatever medium they deploy.
The etchings in 'My Giant Colouring Book', published by Paragon Press in 2004, seem to be seething with grotesque imagery, yet on inspection they are surprisingly innocuous; there is nothing here to offend an anxious parent or teacher. 19 of the 21 images are based loosely on join-the-dots drawings from children’s picture books, which were copied through photo-etching on to copper plates. These have triggered surrealistic interventions, improvised monstrous creatures, fantastic landscapes and macabre incidents, deviating wildly from the prescribed dot-to-dot formation. Dinos has said that they ‘are about how wrong you could make an image. How you could use nodal points and ignore them at the same time’.
The Chapman brothers drew their responses to the colouring book pages onto mylar sheets, which were then transferred through a light-sensitive process on to the plates. The resulting images, all - ironically - monochrome, are dense, hallucinatory improvisations that subvert the apparent innocence of the original illustrations. They are rich in art-historical allusions, from medieval images of hell and damnation to Picasso, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism and Paul McCarthy’s assaults on icons of folk culture. The prints offer a brilliant introduction to the imaginations of two of Britain’s most inventive and subversive artists.
Jake & Dinos Chapman: 'My Giant Colouring Book'
The Gallery at NUCA
St George's Street
+44 (0) 1603 610 561
Tuesday - Saturday: 12-5pm
4 December 2012 - 13 January 2013
Jake & Dinos Chapman 'My Giant Colouring Book' 2004
© Jake & Dinos Chapman and The Paragon Press, London 2007